Fostering is one of the best decisions I have ever made and I’d absolutely recommend it!
Lorraine has been fostering for the National Fostering Agency for almost 18 months now, and describes her decision to look after vulnerable children and young people as ‘one of the best decisions I have ever made!’ Here is her story of how she became a foster carer with the National Fostering Agency……
Having often thought about fostering over the years, Lorraine decided in to make an enquiry into fostering in summer 2015. My friend who I was working for at the time decided to sell their business and it seemed like fate that I had the opportunity to take the first steps into fostering. My initial enquiry was dealt with quickly and efficient, and following an initial phone call a social worker visited my home shortly after. This visit was a chance for me to find out more about the agency and the process and was the first real step I took into fostering. As a single person I was concerned that this would hold me back, however after conversations with my assessor I realised that as long as I had the right skills and the right set up at home, my marital status wasn’t a factor – which was a huge relief!
My reasons for fostering varied from having seen my own children grow up and become more independent, to working with vulnerable people of all ages, to having grandchildren. My thoughts over the years were of helping and working with children, and later in life I was in the ideal place in life to offer children a safe sanctuary in my home and it was time to give back. I felt as though I had a lot of life skills to give, and wanted to put them to good use.
The actual assessment took around 5 months, and focussed on my personal attributes such as listening skills, ability to not let stress affect me and being approachable – all of which I now use in my role as a foster carers. I have also attended further foster carer training in child protection, understanding behaviour and first aid – but to name a few. The training includes classroom style lessons which are relaxed and sometimes a good giggle, as well as online training which is really easy to access from home. The training provided locally is first class and is something I rely on a great deal when working with the children & young people in my care.
The support I receive from NFA, and in particular from my Supervising Social Worker is absolutely fantastic. They are always there when I need them to offer help and support, and the training has certainly helped me to learn a great deal. Following a few unsuccessful phone calls, a young person was placed with me who was 17 years old. I was initially very sceptical of teenagers, and wanted to look after children aged 5-11, mainly due to my experience working in a school and also with my grandchildren; however I also thought they would be slightly easier to deal with than older children. 18 months on, I can honestly say it was the best decision I have ever made. The key for me has been to communicate openly and honestly, and to treat young people with respect. I have learnt so much over the last 18 months, and had so much fun that I would encourage anyone to consider fostering teenagers. In truth it has shocked me just how much I have enjoyed it!
The young person is now placed on a ‘Staying Put’ basis which is a scheme aimed to help young people aged 18-21 to have a stable base in their early adulthood. I have also completed short periods of ‘respite’ care for a few different children, and recently taken on board a young person who came to me from a residential home on the ‘Bridge to Foster’ scheme (a step down programme for young people to support them in the transition from residential care to a family home). All of the young people I have cared for have been challenging in their own separate way, however I wouldn’t change it for the world!
There are a number of things I enjoy about fostering, but seeing how your input into a child’s life can make a huge difference to them is an unbelievable feeling – the best thing I have ever done!
Notes to editor
Lorraine is a foster carer with the National Fostering Agency, a major, independent and well established fostering agency, working with Local Authorities throughout the UK. Our aim is to provide quality care and achieve the best outcomes for the children and young people entrusted to us. We do so by working in consultation and partnership with our foster carers, Local Authorities, our experienced and professional social workers, and of course the children and young people we look after. We have recently been awarded ‘Outstanding’ in all areas’ by Ofsted after our most recent inspection in October 2015.
If you are interested in finding out more about fostering in the North West call 0330 022 9135 or by visiting www.nfa.co.uk